Matt Crafton notched his second win of the Camping World Truck Series at the WinStar World Casino and Resort 400 on Friday night, per NASCAR Trucks:
Crafton truly outwitted the competition. His pit crew made the calculated gamble that he could finish the final 61 laps on one tank of gas. The biggest question then became if he would simply have enough fuel to finish the race.
Late in the race, his crew told him to slow down in order to conserve fuel and hopefully stick it out for the rest of the race, per Fox Sports: NASCAR:
Luckily for Crafton, he had built a healthy enough lead that he could afford to take his foot off the gas and coast to the finish line.
Coincidentally enough, Crafton had said before the race that he'd need plenty of things to go his way if he was to defend his 2013 championship, per Gerry Fraley of The Dallas Morning News.
"To be able to do it would be huge," he said. "We have to have luck on our side. We had all the luck last year. I know our guys build very fast trucks, but a lot of pieces have to go right."
That's exactly what happened on Friday night.
Ryan Blaney, who had been running second for most of the race, decided to make a quick pit stop late in the race in order to make a push on Crafton:
However, the move backfired, and Blaney had to settle for fourth place, despite leading 45 laps.
Justin Lofton, who won the pole, and 50-year-old Joe Nemechek rounded out the top three after they both turned it on in the final few laps:
Matt Crafton somehow makes it on fuel & wins the race!!! Justin Lofton finishes 2nd & Joe Nemechek 3rd...Nemechek 3rd! #NASCAR— Nick DeGroot (@ndegroot89) June 7, 2014
Here's how the rest of the race shook out, per NASCAR.com.
|5||John Wes Townley||5|
|6||Ron Hornaday Jr.||30|
|10||Darrell Wallace Jr.||54|
|17||Jimmy Weller III||08|
|20||Jennifer Jo Cobb||10|
|23||German Quiroga Jr.||77|
With the win, Crafton jumped ahead of Timothy Peters to take the top spot in the standings, per ESPN.com.
|3||Ron Hornaday Jr.||30||208|
|6||German Quiroga Jr.||77||200|
|8||John Wes Townley||5||198|
Peters went from first to fifth after his 24th-place finish.
His night started off poorly after he got a flat right rear tire on the eighth lap, per the Motor Racing Network:
Then, on the 54th lap, he made contact with the wall and couldn't recover from that:
Peters will be happy to see the back of the Texas Motor Speedway.
Conspicuous in his absence on Friday night was Kyle Busch. He was in Pocono qualifying for Sunday's Pocono 400, leaving the door open for a full-time Truck Series driver to register the win. That added some unpredictability to the race.
However, the WinStar World Casino and Resort 400 was mostly a two-car race for the first half, and then Crafton dominated the second.
Blaney and Crafton had been going back and forth for the early part of the race. Right around the 92nd, lap, though, the No. 88 truck made his move, and from there, he didn't look back:
Crafton was certainly a deserved winner, aside from his crew's brilliant strategy. He had led the most laps all night (118), smashing his previous best:
.@Matt_Crafton just led his 69th lap of the race - his highest single-race total in his career. Previous best was 68 at Mansfield (2007).— NASCAR Trucks (@NASCAR_Trucks) June 7, 2014
Although the most laps led is generally a strong indicator for success, that hasn't been the case historically in this race. According to the Fox Sports 1 broadcast, only 39 percent of the time did the driver who led the most laps go on to win the race.
Crafton nearly lost it late, but fumes were enough to push him across to the finish line.
He'll look to pick up his third victory of the season at the Drivin' for Linemen 200 next Saturday at the Gateway Motorsports Park. It's the first time the Truck Series will be in Madison, Illinois since 2010.
The race offers Crafton a great chance to increase his stranglehold atop the points standings.